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Under the new four-year contract between the District 65 School Board and the District Educators Council (DEC, the teachers union), a teacher’s compensation may increase by as much as 30% over the four-year term, assuming the teacher receives step and track increases, or the increase may be about 7%, assuming no step or track increases. A lot depends on the teacher’s years of experience.

Under the contract, teachers will receive:

• a bonus equal to 1.5% of salary (2% for those who do not receive a step increase) in 2012-13;

• a 1.5% increase in base salary in both 2013-14 and 2014-15, and an increase of 1.75% in base salary in 2015-16. On a compounded basis, the increase in base salary works out to be 4.82% over the four years.

• Most teachers will receive a “step” increase, which is based on years of experience. Step increases vary in size depending on the years of experience. Teachers starting out with between one and 10 years experience (steps 1 – 10) will see increases of between about 12 and 20% due to step. Step increases are phased out after a teacher has reached 18, 20 or in some cases 22 years of experience.

• Teachers also receive a bump in salary of about 5 – 10% if they move up a “track.” There are five tracks, and a teacher may apply to move up a track every three or four years and must demonstrate he or she meets certain criteria which include obtaining a Master’s degree or completing a specified number of college level courses, and demonstrating leadership. Teacher appraisals, which take into account student growth, are also a factor. Historically, about 10% of the teachers have moved up a track each year, but there have been variations.

The accompanying chart shows the percentage increase in compensation due to the bonus, increases in base salary, step increases, and (for some teachers) moving up one track. It does so for teachers who start out with 1, 6, 10, 14 and 20 years of experience at an assumed Track. Most teachers will likely not receive an increase due to track movement.

Step increases have come under attack in recent years in light of studies that found that teacher effectiveness increases in their first three to five years of teaching, with little improvement due to experience after that.

Compensating teachers at the K-8 level for obtaining a master’s degree and for taking additional college courses has also been criticized in recent years. Some studies conclude there is no correlation between a teacher having a master’s degree and student achievement.

According to the new salary schedule, the starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience is $44,990 and it grows to $47,161 in 2015-16. The salary for teachers with 21 years experience and who are in the highest track, Track V, is $101,676 this year and it grows to $106,583.